Rocky Fork Enterprise

Suicide suspected in child-porn case

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A Gahanna man who was due in federal court last week on a child-pornography charge was found dead in the morning of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

James Alton Mills, 71, was scheduled for a 10:15 a.m. March 15 arraignment that could have resulted in a guilty plea or bond revocation, said Joseph Landusky, his attorney. Mills could have faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted of possessing pornography.

A friend who had gone to Mills' home at 214 Flint Ridge Drive to check on him called Gahanna police just before 9 a.m. March 15. The body was found outside, Lt. Tom Basso said.

Basso would not confirm the dead person's identity but said all evidence pointed to suicide. Landusky said the dead man was Mills, adding, "I know that he was depressed."

Police had arrested Mills in September and charged him with pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor. That case was dropped so the federal charge could be filed.

The complaint in U.S. District Court describes police interviews with a 15-year-old boy who said Mills had given him wine and had him remove all of his clothes and masturbate while Mills watched and a camera in the bedroom recorded them.

Mills would ask the boy to play such "naked games" as strip poker and "strip checkers" several times a day, according to the complaint.

The boy, who had run away from home and was staying with Mills in September, then sent his mother a message, asking her to pick him up.

Police also interviewed another person who had stayed at Mills' home in the fall. That witness had seen Mills playing the "naked game" with a minor and said Mills would give children money or a place to stay if they would strip for him.

Detectives found a video of the 15-year-old naked, photos of Mills in the nude with unidentified males, photos of male genitalia and a photo of a nude teenage boy taken in 1998.

Mills told police he was a nudist and found the male body beautiful.

This is the second case in the past six months in which the subject of a pornography investigation has committed suicide. John W. Hayes, 38, of Grandview Heights, killed himself in September after authorities found hundreds of secretly filmed videos of naked women in his home.

Heather A. Hill, an assistant U.S. attorney working on the Mills case, said she could not comment March 15, other than to say her office would wait for the results of the Gahanna police investigation into the death.

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